Valley News Forum for March 19, 2023: Parents don’t always know best

Published: 03-20-2023 4:17 PM

Parents don’t always know best

Those who promote legislation to require educators to provide information on everything that goes on in their children’s classrooms rely on the mantra “Parents always know what is best for their children.” That statement is false.

As a teacher many years ago, I called a boy’s mother to say that her son was repeatedly misbehaving and I asked for her help. The next day the boy returned with a black eye — courtesy of his father. I was never able to regain that student’s trust.

The CDC estimates that at least 1 in 7 children are abused and/or neglected in a given year. Most parents try to do the best they can for their children. Some do not try. And some who do try are unaware of the harm they cause by inappropriately punishing their children — or by attempting to protect them from exposure to ideas or viewpoints of which they do not approve.

Children should be encouraged to talk to their parents and learn from them. But for their own safety, they should be able to confide in adults and trust that what they say will be confidential. And they should be exposed to a wide range of information in an educational environment that promotes civil and fact-based discussion to increase their ability to cope with a rapidly changing world. Because parents do not always know what is best for their children.

Cappy Nunlist


Teens need adults with compassion in their lives

I can’t be the only reader struck by the raw contrast between the front page stories published this past Sunday and Monday, March 12 and 13. The first (“Lebanon teen touched by tragedy forges path of his own making with help of mentors”) was about a young man, Chris Perriello, who found his way to a stronger sense of self — despite a horrifying tragedy — with the help of caring teachers. I was deeply touched when I read one teacher quoted as saying “our school is so strong in helping kids work through things.” Further into the article, the same teacher commented that while Chris “tried to push adults away, I said, ‘Nope, that’s not going to happen with me.” The basketball coach has also been a significant presence in the life of this young man and his older brother. A third teacher, pictured on the front page, has many students, including Chris, in her room every day before and after school. All three teachers, and many others at Lebanon High School, have strong personal as well as intellectual connections to their students. The same is true in schools all over this state.

It was with profound dismay that I then read Monday’s story (“Trans students rally at NH Statehouse as lawmakers debate”) about the efforts of the Republican Party to pass laws that would require teachers to share conversations they have with students under penalty of losing their license to teach and possibly being sued for monetary damages. Once again we have an incredibly vulnerable population, LGBTQ+ students, rather than obvious victims of domestic abuse, being targeted. But make no mistake, these are teenagers who need adults with compassion in their lives, and those adults are not always — as Sunday’s story makes all too clear — parents.

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Attacks on public education, public school teachers, books, curriculum, and vulnerable populations seem to motivate current Republicans. Those who care about all students, who are committed to educating thoughtful, questioning, empathetic members of society, must make it very clear that we will not tolerate such efforts. Please pay attention to what is happening in Concord, let your representatives know where you stand on these bills, and join with the adults in our schools to care about and help all of our children.

Deborah H. Bacon Nelson

chair, Hanover/Lyme Town Democrats

College Park a viable building site for Dartmouth

With the Dartmouth College Lyme Road project a fait accompli despite many good suggestions for an on-campus alternative, looking back I wonder why the student residence plan along the south edge of College Park was rejected several years ago.

And, speaking of College Park, the park itself could well be considered as a building site.

For those who find that suggestion heretical, it would be helpful to know that since its inception in 1869, to celebrate Dartmouth’s centennial, the park has been underused, ignored and, today, much as it has been throughout its 150-year history, it lies fallow.

Finding a student today who knows of the park’s existence would be nearly impossible.

The beautiful park presidents Smith and Bartlett had in mind featuring walking paths, benches, and summer cottages languished and never happened.

With the extreme pressure for building sites, the college would do well to end College Park’s inviolate status by making it an eligible building site.

George Hathorn